In the very first post on this blog, I wrote about how lucky I am to be a 21st century painter because I could walk into an art store and buy a tube of Lapis watercolor paint. No need to dig it up. No need to grind it myself. No need to fret about consistency from batch to batch. No worries about preserving it.

I am always ready to give thanks for paint tubes and other innovations when someone points them out to me.

John G. Rand: Innovator

In May 2013, Smithsonian Magazine had a short but very informative article about the introduction of tubes for paint by “a little-known” American portrait painter, John G. Rand. Should you be hungry for more information about this innovator, look no further than a helpful article from the North Carolina Museum of Art: A revolution in paint.

Philip Ball’s “Bright Earth”

Philip Ball’s brilliant Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color sparked the “I don’t need to grind it” insight. It is still a favorite book, and it sits on my night table. Full of delights and exciting (to me) material such as “Color Technology in Antiquity” and the shocking introduction of “Synthetic Pigments and the Dawn of Color Chemistry,” Bright Earth also answers pesky questions such as “Who was Hooker of Hooker’s Green?”

When making art, we stand (or sit) on the shoulders of innovators. Thanks to all of them.

Read this: Never Underestimate the Power of a Paint Tube (Smithsonian)


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